All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

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Image Credit: http://books.simonandschuster.com/All-American-Boys/Jason-Reynolds/9781481463331

Here’s a visual book talk on this title.  Then below is my written review.

…Obviously I need to figure out a way NOT look as if I’m in pain in the frozen image/start of the video? Yikes! I’ll work on this:)

Started: November 23

Finished: November 26

Category/Genre: Multicultural/Realistic Fiction

Published: September 2015

Awards: None, YET!

Pages: 320

Themes: Diversity Awareness/Acceptance

Rating: 5 Stars

Intended Age/Interest Range: 7th Grade and Up

I heard about this novel back in September, right before it came out. Since diversity in YA Lit is such a hot topic (that I agree with!), I put it on my TBR List immediately. I had never heard of either of the authors, but found it awesomely unique that these two people would team up for a fictional novel. That being said, I think the book’s value is HUGELY increased with the join effort authoring…

This title is narrated by two different boys who attend the same school, but really don’t hang out in the same circles. Rashad is black, participates in ROTC (to pacify his father), and is a normal/overall good kid who pretty much stays out of trouble. Similarly, Quinn also appears as a normal teen and stays on the outskirts of trouble. Quinn is white, has lost his father in the Iraq war, and is banking on a basketball scholarship. The future is important to both boys. Both are “All American” in their own way.

The first pages start up a chain of events that unfolds over 7 days. Rashad gets arrest and excessively beat by a police man when his actions are misunderstood as stealing. Rashad ends up hospitalized with extreme injuries. The whole town is buzzing about this incident; Everyone taking sides – Rashad’s or the white cop’s. The cop is a very close family friend of Quinn’s.

As Rashad tries to understand WHY this has happened to him, he becomes a hashtag and face for a protest. Meanwhile, Quinn attempts to figure out where he stands on this issue… An issue that has their small town completely divided.

I made so many tabs/notes throughout this title! There are so many lines that captured the confusion and injustice of that confusion. My favorite part was when Quinn realizes that by choosing not to take a side, he contributes to the oppressor. He realizes this after the school principal bans Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man (since there is so much racial turmoil going on within the school). But Quinn’s awesome teacher doesn’t care what the principal says, and the class reads the text aloud – to refute the principal decision. As some students chose not to say the derogatory words used in Ellison’s text (and some do), Quinn realizes: “Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. If I didn’t want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things.”

Overall Literary Merit: HIGH

Classroom Possibilities:  Hands down, this book MUST be on library and classroom library shelves! It would be a GREAT all class test in the high school classroom.  Although the text itself isn’t prolific, what is being thought and said throughout the novel is! The book could sway people to stand a stand… I know it sounds extreme, but this book could save lives. Get your hands on this book!

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